Films and fashion were poles apart in Kollywood for a long time, but things seem to be looking up as stars are taking the extra effort to be presentable in the public eye, whether it’s on screen or at an event. This is where stylists come in like the fair god mother to transform Cinderella into a princess.
Putting together celebrities’ looks has become an industry on its own and each division like advertisements, events and photo shoots require special expertise. One such individual who has the knack to balance both his own line and films is Chaitanya Rao, a well-known and much-loved designer and stylist in the city. He recently styled Nayanthara for her upcoming film Imaikka Nodigal and says that it was a backbreaking yet rewarding experience.
“I styled Asin for Ghajini and that’s when Nayanthara saw my work. Ever since, we’ve kept in touch so our friendship goes back many years. I styled her for Thani Oruvan before this
film and it got rave reviews,” he tells us.
He has bitter memories of working with top actresses in the south but Nayan is different, he says. “She knows how to respect everyone who works with her in a film. I admire her because she’s evolved as an actress a lot over the years and now has an individual sense of style.”
Working with A-listers like her is always a challenge for Chaitanya because, “They’ve done so many films that we need to be doubly sure no look is repeated.”
This is not just a one-man show, however, but a team effort, he says. “When it comes to cinema, the director and cinematographer’s say matters because certain colours like green and blue are not preferred. Even the choreographer and I work closely because what’s the point of designing something an actress can’t dance in?”. Hair and makeup also play a pivotal role in completing a look — “It’ll be a disaster if the eye shadow is matching with the dress so we do send samples or references in advance,” he laughs.
When asked if he has any particular celebrity in mind who he wishes to work with, pat comes the reply, “I’ve already worked with most of them! If I were to name an artiste though, it would be Tilda Swinton.”
Designers like him are constantly looking for people with an edge to design or style for because their personality gives life to haute couture. Though internationally acclaimed celebrities wear his label, Chaitanya feels designers don’t get the recognition they deserve.
“I was styling for Endrendrum Punnagai and the director made me sit in a coffee shop. When the film came out, everyone asked me if I acted in it. It was quite depressing because no one recognised me though I’d styled for hundreds of films but I got popular for being ‘that guy in a café.’”
So he’s pretty excited about a TV commercial he recently acted in, for a shirt brand. “It was quite a unique experience so maybe I should think about being in front of the camera a little more!” he signs off.